Are you asking for the flowers?

Last week as I visited a funeral home, the director lamented that his overall profit was falling as cremations increased.

I stroked my chin a moment, then asked him, “Are you marketing your cremation service just like a traditional funeral?”

He responded blankly, “In what way?” All by itself, his answer almost predicted why his profit margins were shrinking.

My question to funeral directors is simple. Are you offering the client additional services and merchandise to enhance their cremation service, or are you only providing exactly what they ask for? In the past, cremation sales only included an urn. Now, consider offering a visitation, some memorial folders, a nicer urn, or maybe the customer would like some thank you cards. These are all “extras” that would add to the price of the cremation. Funeral directors are notoriously bad at selling. They don’t want to appear to be salesmen; they consider themselves a nice old hometown funeral director just out to help. My philosophy is “You have not because you ask not. So go for it!”

This funeral director I spoke with fit the typical profile, he did not want to appear to be a “salesman”. He was very hesitant at my suggestion to offer upgrades to his families with additional services and merchandise. After several examples of what other funeral homes are doing, and reviewing ways SNL could increase profitability, he replied, “I am not a salesman!”

Think about it. The customer might already want these extras, and even be planning to purchase them elsewhere. If you don’t try, they can’t say yes. If you don’t ask, they won’t buy.

As I continue to ponder the funeral director’s words, I guess that this man’s profit will continue to decrease. Next thing he knows, he could very well be asking himself, “What Happened?”

The choice is yours, Sir!

Jerry W. Rutherford

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